The Radovna River flowing through the Vintgar Gorge
The Bled Gorge (Slovene: Blejski Vintgar) or Vintgar Gorge (Soteska Vintgar) is a 1.6-kilometer (0.99 mi) gorge located in Slovenia in the Municipality of Gorje near the settlement of Zgornje Gorje, four kilometers northwest of Bled. Carved by the Radovna River, the sheer canyon walls are 50 to 100 meters (160 to 330 ft) high, with a total slope measuring about 250 m (820 ft). The stream has created many erosive features such as pools and rapids, and terminates in the picturesque 13 m (43 ft) Šum Falls (literally, 'noisy falls').
Discovered in 1891 by Jakob Žumer and Benedikt Lergetporer, the gorge was soon after equipped with wooden observation walkways and bridges, and was opened to the public on August 26, 1893. The walkways have been renovated several times since; a hydroelectric dam has also been built below the gorge and a railway bridge for the line between Jesenice and Most na Soči across it, but natural beauty of the Bled Gorge remains and continues to draw visitors.
Rapids in the upper Bled Gorge
As the first mountain gorge in the area to be made accessible to tourists, the word vintgar has been generalized in Slovene to refer to other scenic, protected gorges. Etymologically, the word is derived from German Windegg(er) 'place exposed to the wind' via the hamlet of Vintgar at the head of the gorge in the village of Podhom.
Before the last ice age, the Radovna River flowed eastward. After being dammed by the ice and detritus of the Bohinj Glacier, the resulting lake cut a new path northeast through a soft layer of triassic limestone between the peaks Boršt (931 m or 3,054 ft) and Hom (844 m or 2,769 ft), towards the Upper Sava Valley.